Summary: Despite multiple attacks against Christianity today, mature Christians maintain spiritual courage to speak the truth in love and to intervention desperate situations to overcome evil with good.
LET COURAGE RISE WITH DANGER AND STRENGTH TO STRENGTH OPPOSE
“No good deed goes unpunished.” Although I do not totally subscribe to the cynicism of that expression, because it is my naïve nature to believe that nobody would be opposed to acts of kindness and deeds of mercy, we do have reason to believe that not everybody is happy when good things happen to certain people.
All too often it turns out that some folks get furiously angry and deliriously unhappy when they were not the ones to whom a good thing happened, or they were not the doers of the good deed, or they had not been consulted prior to the doing of the good deed; their permission had not been sought. It all boils down to who the power is behind the act of mercy or the deed of kindness.
While doing a good thing – going up to the Temple to pray – Peter and John allowed themselves to be interrupted by a crippled beggar who sat by a Beautiful Gate asking alms but instead of getting alms he got legs, the folks who saw it got religion, and the two apostles got a chance to preach the gospel - to tell about Jesus and how God had raised Him from the dead.
Good News! You’d think everybody would be happy about such a miracle . . . and that without exception they all would praise God from whom all blessings flow – but such was not the case – Acts 4:1-3 . . .
The plight of the lame beggar can be looked upon as symbolic of the plight of citizens of any nation standing in the need of prayer and revival.
How could anyone not get excited about what was happening in the hearts and minds of many people who had felt for so long that governing authorities had treated them badly and turned them into beggars with little or no choice but to depend upon luck or benevolence for daily sustenance?
Having experienced the miraculous intervention of the LORD God into their plight via post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, His ascension, and the dramatic infusion of the Holy Spirit, the first days of the early church were exciting indeed – conversions, signs and wonders, miraculous healings, explosive growth because they and their message found “favor with all the people”.
Then what happened? Things changed drastically! The “powers that be” could take it no longer. They reared up on their hind legs to resist the movement in what became a power struggle between the forces of good and forces of evil. Nothing new! Resistance started in the Garden of Eden and has been with us ever since. How did that resistance manifest itself back then?
A Powerful Unholy Posse came after the good guys - Peter and John - took hold of them and put them in a holding cell in the local jail. This powerful posse was made up of political and hierarchical establishment types who had been accustomed to having no one challenge their stranglehold on the people.
Any perceived threat to their authority was considered by them to be a threat to their iron-clad control over the citizenry of their nation. The Jewish establishment had brow-beat the nation into becoming a compliant citizenry. Thus, the question: “By what power or by what name did you do this?”
Then what happened? A Powerful Holy Spirit took hold of Peter and spoke to powerful unholy rulers through him – Acts 4:8-12 . . .
After spending the night in a holding cell, Peter and John faced the “powers that be” (including the two who had been directly responsible for the order given to the Roman procurator to crucify Jesus”. Here the two apostles stood, before the most powerful family in Israel – Caiaphas and his father-in-law Annas, both of whom had served as High Priests during Peter’s run-ins with the Jewish hierarchy.
Was Peter afraid . . . trembling in his boots . . . stuttering above a whisper . . . due to nervousness? We’re talking about Peter, not me or thee. There was a time in his apostleship when he did in fact cower before the authorities, but not this time due to the power of the Holy Spirit, whose powerful presence the old codger had experienced first-hand and the same power that had now had taken hold of him.
Under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God, Peter boldly preached Jesus - whom they had crucified but God had raised from the dead. Everything he and all the other apostles had done, Peter told them, had been authorized by Jesus Christ and had been done for His glory.
It is important to note here that it was typical of the Jewish Sanhedrin to treat common folks gently due to their assumption that ordinary Jewish citizens were ignorant and did not know what they were talking about. Usually, such folks got off with a slap on the wrist and a warning.